Throughout my life, I’ve strived to be the person I’ve never met. It’s not an easy task however, I live each day as if it were my last. Why? Because I never expected to live this long and I want to go out with no regrets. My twin sister mirrors my feelings of giving everything we have on a daily basis. We are both survivors. We’ve survived violent first marriages and second marriages of infidelity to husband’s who weren’t worthy of our hearts.
I often counsel my clients regarding the commitment marriage entails. While you might vow to love, honor and cherish your spouse, your spouse may not be worthy of the vows you took on wedding day.
For reasons that I may never understand, my first husband who was so kind during our courtship became angry and violent on our wedding night. The reason? I refused to have intimate relations that night. I was beaten so badly over this that I couldn’t leave the hotel room for several days. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had an ovarian cyst. The one thing that I was highly aware of was the pain. Saying no incited a beating to “put me in my place.” For ten years of that marriage, I would walk on eggshells. My first husband would find reasons to continue to beat me while blaming me “for making him do that.”
The pain of living with someone who used BOTH physical and mental abuse to control me would affect my self esteem to such an extent that I actually believed that I was stupid, ugly and worthless.
My turning point would be the birth of my son. My fear that one day my husband would turn his anger from me to my son was the defining moment I chose to file for my divorce. My first husband fought me over the one thing I couldn’t replace, our son, for five years. I fought back. I had lost my ability to bear more children after a beating ruptured my uterus. I worked several jobs to feed the attorneys who love a war. From my attorney to my son’s Ad Lidem attorney, the “money game” of divorce and child custody is a war. It’s a war you will never forget. It’s a war that leaves you with scars and bruises. Freedom is expensive. Ask me, I know.
My sisters first husband was also abusive. On their wedding night, Roy offered my sister up to his friends and beat her for resisting his demands. The things people don’t know about us shock them. I rescued my sister from Roy in a Volkswagen Beetle. My choice of a getaway car wasn’t the best but, it was effective.
After our first marriages, my sister and I made a pact that the next person who attempted to lay a hand on either us or our children would be sorry. We would never again allow ourselves to become punching bags because we were afraid to fight back. We would pick up whatever was near us and use anything as an equalizer. We were no longer fearful of being hurt. Instead, we were furious we had been hurt and didn’t defend ourselves. It would never happen again to either of us or our children. We would see to it and we have. We would protect our children and grandchildren at ALL COSTS because our own family had failed to protect us all of our lives. Children learn what they live.
Last Saturday while headed to Cook’s Childrens Hospital, I saw a woman being verbally assaulted by two men. What I FELT were the many times my first husband had beaten me or my father or my grandfather. I jumped out of my SUV as the verbal altercation turned physical. I was also ready for a fight. In my mind “no one would ever hurt me again” in the circumstance, the woman was unconscious due to being thrown across a parking lot by two thugs. My first action was to hit them with anything I could find. The first item was the victims purse. Secondly, I would mace them. What I didn’t realize in my fury was that the two thugs were every man who had ever hurt me. Thank God they ran or I might very well have killed them both right in the street.
I would later learn one of those men was Ginger’s “old man.” I’m still trying to convince her to file charges. I won’t give up. I did scare off the attackers who thought I was a suburban housewife and learned that I’m a dangerous and fearless female instead and gave those two idiots a literal run for their money. Not on my watch. I dislike bullies so much that it’s difficult for me to describe my feelings about them.
People say “don’t get involved.” Usually, the people saying this stupid shit have never been victims. Shut up and get out of my way.
One day as a child, my twin sister pushed our grandfather away from her. He grabbed her leg and put out a cigarette on her ankle. The Cherry of the lit cigarette burned through flesh to the bone. To give you a better example of what a shitty family we have, I will further explain that the injury was irreversible. To this day, a half dollar sized scar with tissue so damaged it sticks out over an inch from her ankle is impossible not to see. As adults, I tried to have it surgically removed in order to stop being reminded of what he had done to us over and over again. How he had injured my sister and no one cared. The injury became infected. For weeks, my sister had to lance and drain the infection. Never once did our grandmother, father, aunt or anyone else offer to take my sister to a doctor. NOT ONCE. Cindy will carry the scar and the visible reminder of the life we left behind for the rest of her life. Each and every time I see this hideous mark, I want to call “our family” and tell them how much I hate them.
People always say “you have to forgive and move on.” I wonder what is so easy for them to forgive? I wonder what THEY HAVE SURVIVED that makes such a suggestion easy for them to make? The truth is that generally the people giving this dumb ass advice haven’t survived anything. They were born with a silver spoon. They were coddled by their parents. They were celebrated. They can also F Off.
Cindy’s second husband, Larry was a philanderer. I’ve found throughout my life that men who “mess around” often have low self esteem.
My second husband had an array of mistresses. Larry had an entire family due to his affairs. My second husband only had mistresses. When you’ve left a violent marriage only to find yourself in a marriage of philandering, you blame yourself. “Maybe I’m not pretty enough? Maybe it’s me? I’m not good enough? I’m not interesting enough.” Self doubt destroys self esteem.
I filed both of my divorces. Cindy filed her first divorce but Larry beat her to the punch on her second divorce while also claiming and lying regarding having possession of Stephaney the daughter Cindy had with Larry.
While Cindy and both of her daughters were living with me in San Clemente, Larry was lying in court in Tarrant County to skirt child support on Stephaney.
Cindy and I “circled our wagons” and raised both of her daughters without benefit of child support. Cindy was a victim of a lying ex husband, dirty attorney and judge who didn’t care enough about the facts to demand proof of who actually had custody of Stephaney. Family Court is a circus. The judge can occasionally be a clown. The judge on Cindy’s divorce was. I have many friends who are attorneys. They are reputable, honest and dedicated however, I’m also aware that there are dirty socks in any career including litigation. Sneaky, conniving scoundrels who will do anything to win.
How do I know? My first husband’s attorney used my husband’s knowledge of my childhood against not only me but also my twin sister during deposition. Victimizing the victims? Absolutely. Did this have anything to do with the violence of my marriage? Absolutely not. But, my attorney was a dipshit who didn’t take his position to defend his client serious or to heart. I met several dipshit attorneys throughout my first divorce and subsequent custody battle.
Sadly, I also had the misfortune of hiring 5 of these idiots before finding a reputable attorney who wasn’t cheap but was effective to finally get me possession of my son. Thank you Stephen King. You restored my faith in family law attorneys.
As for you other buzzards, one day, I promise you will answer for your sins. The greed you exhibited won’t be worth the accountability you will face in the end. I can assure you of this.
Cindy and I have never been lucky. What we have been are two of the most resilient MF’s you will ever encounter. With everything going against us and no one other than each other to lean on for support, we have overcome every obstacle in our path including choosing the wrong partners to marry not once but twice.
Many of Cindy’s quotes are based on observation. Several are regarding family. To clarify who we view as our family, I will elaborate. Ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, our husband and our clients. That’s right. I just said clients. They are the family we weren’t born with that God blessed us with.
Our third husband’s are completely different from one another. Cindy’s husband is a truck driver. My husband is a builder and developer. Both are righteous, honest, dedicated and loyal. Both are dedicated to our well being. Both are the husband’s we appreciate because we’ve had bad husband’s. We’ve had bad experiences. We’ve had our hearts and our trust broken by our first and second husband’s as well as our own families who consistently failed to protect us as children.
It’s not unusual for me to suggest to a client to rethink their decision to marry. Why? Because it’s a helluva lot harder to divorce than it is to marry that’s why. If I see red flags in the relationship, I advise my client of my concerns. I’m not worried about “losing a gig” or opportunity to book a client. I don’t HAVE TO WORK.
What I do have to do is know that I’ve made honest observations and suggestions to direct my client in the right direction.
“Wait Wendy- you advise your prospective clients NOT to MARRY on occasion?” Absolutely. If my client is giving up everything for someone not worthy of them, I’m old enough and wise enough to educate them of the dangers choosing the wrong partner entail. I’m everyone’s mother. Cindy is too.
Why didn’t either of us realize that we were entering a bad marriage not once but twice? I’m asked this all of the time. Buckle up kids because the answer will shock the shit out of you. First, we were running. We left home at 15 and were homeless with nowhere to go and no one in OUR ENTIRE FAMILY to go to.
Cindy and I felt that by marrying, we would be safe. We were wrong. Desperate people make desperate decisions. Remember this because it’s true.
Locking yourself into a violent marriage without access to money is the first sign of control. Isolating us from each other is the second form of control.
We now realize how both of our first husbands controlled Cindy and I as well as our income and ability to flee. No one controls our money now. No one has since we left our first husband’s. We removed CONTROL by the time we married our second husband’s.
I easily recognize the warning signs of control because I’ve lived through them. Cindy has too. Our childhood was spent hiding from adults who consistently said “children should be seen and not heard.”
These adults AKA “our family” viewed us as nothing more than workhorses. “Wash those windows. Mow the yard. Get out of the house. Get out of the room.” We were always in the way. We were always treated with disdain. My sisters and I were also sexually abused by our grandfather. No one cared. We were disposable to our family. I stopped speaking for a number of years due to a stutter. My father would slap me if I looked at him and tell me “get that look off your face.” For years, as an adult, it was difficult for me to look anyone in the eye. Thanks dad. Thanks for never protecting us from your father or your selfish mother and thanks for leading us to believe that violence was normal. We learned that from you.
Many studies have been done on what children can remember and how old they are when memories are remembered. Cindy and I remember our 6th birthday. My grandfather molested us both on that day while our family was planning a surprise party.
We had lost our step sister, Tammy “because she wasn’t my father’s child.” Our dad had taken Tammy to our mothers mothers house and dumped her. No one explained this to us. One day Tammy was there. The next she wasn’t. I stopped speaking or trying to speak on my 6th birthday. Tammy had been being victimized by our grandfather for years. She was 4 years older than Cindy and I. When my father took her from us, he also took the only mother figure we had known.
The absence of Tammy was ENTIRELY why Cindy and I became the “next victims of our grandfather.” We would be victims until leaving home at 15. Six years old to 15 unwanted, unloved and in today’s society, victims of human trafficking. Today, SOMEONE would care.
The reason I said no on my wedding night was a twofer. First, I was in a great deal of pain and secondly, I wasn’t willing to let anyone (even my new husband) force themselves on me. Like my grandfather, my husband beat me for trying to get away. Trying to protect myself. I vowed to kill the next person who ever attempted to take from me what I was unwilling to give. The amount of anger I have against those who abused me makes me fearless. It also makes me a worthy opponent.
Cindy was raped leaving IHOP. She will never recover. The rape opened the wounds and the memories of our childhood. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is real. Cindy had just left a violent first marriage and was already fragile. Being raped by two men would forever haunt my sister. The rape opened old wounds I was trying to heal. The rape also produced a child that we raised together, Leigh Ann.
I can assure you that anyone attempting to rob or rape her today could easily be killed with her bare hands. This surprises people who see “two nice old ladies.” What you don’t see is where we have been or what we have been through. You have to look hard to find it. We mask our pain. We don’t share it.
Last Thursday while in Abilene, Texas, my grandniece, Makenna, attempted to kill herself. Thank God we found her before it was too late. After all of the shit Cindy and I have been through in our lives, hurting ourselves rarely entered our minds. We questioned why Makenna would want to hurt herself over a boy sending her texts or a bully at school? We didn’t understand it. Her anxiety medication, Lexapro was what she had taken in an attempt to end her life. The same medication KNOWN to cause adolescent suicidal thoughts or actions. What you don’t know about medication, you need to educate yourself about. We have.
One of my Coffield Unit brides took my advice last year to cancel her wedding. The inmate was effectively “controlling her from the inside.” He was controlling her money, her visits to family and her life. I had a lengthy conversation a week prior to the wedding. What was it? “If he can tie you down while incarcerated, how do you expect him to behave when he’s released? In your home and in your life? RUN.” She did.
I’m marrying her in July to someone who isn’t incarcerated. Someone who rejoices at her smile and happy heart. Someone who is worthy of her love and loyalty.
It is my hope and our prayer that my grandniece realizes how much she means to us. How important she is to our lives. My grandfathers twin brother, Joe killed himself on Father’s Day years ago. Joe had learned that his twin brother was molesting young girls in our family. Subsequently, Joe couldn’t live with what he had learned. Suicide to escape the truth. Joe took his knowledge to his grave. In my opinion, Joe was a coward.
Personally, I wish Joe had instead turned the gun on our grandfather, Jerry. Why didn’t he? Joe could have spared generations of other victims and instead chose to kill himself. Why didn’t anyone aware of what was going on report my grandfather? Why wasn’t he ever held accountable? My grandfather destroyed many lives and was NEVER held accountable for his actions.
One week prior to my grandfathers death, he attempted to apologize to me. APOLOGIZE? I was furious and unlike Cindy, didn’t give a shit about what I said or my anger IN FRONT OF MY GRANDMOTHER. F her.
The POS (AKA my grandfather): “you know I’m dying and I wanted you to forgive me. I’ve made mistakes and I’m sorry. I’m facing the end of this life and wish I hadn’t hurt people. Can you forgive me?”
Me: “I hate you. I hate this family. I hate what happened to Tammy and Anna Marie. I hate the lies. I hate the secrets. I hate that NO ONE cared about us. I hate that you recorded our mother selling her four children for $50 each to RUB it in our noses that NO ONE cared about us. Not even our own mother. How often you reminded us of the insignificance of $50 by telling me this tank of gas costs so and so. It’s worth nearly as much as you are. You are trash. I liked you better when you didn’t talk. You are worth less than $201 combined with your siblings since there are four of you. I hate that you and my father took my sister Tammy and separated us. I hate that you separated me from my twin because I begged my grandmother to make you stop hurting us. I hate that Joe didn’t shoot you right in the head instead. I hate what you did to Cindy’s leg that I will be forced to look at for the rest of my life. Sorry’s ass. Take your sorry and stick it up your ass. I hope you die screaming, suffering and burning in Hell. You deserve it.” A few hours later on a flight from DFW to Las Vegas, the old man did die. My conversation loading the luggage most likely caused a massive coronary. I like to believe so. He would never hurt another person in our family AGAIN. His death was a gift from God. The torment, the memories, the trauma the devastation could finally be put away little by little right into my “invisible box of things I can’t deal with.” No one would ever suffer at his hands again. The God I had lost faith in finally stepped in to end it. Leigh Ann and Stephaney would be safe now.
For “family members” offended by my candor or my honesty, my anger or my journey to overcome the obstacles put in my path, you could have stopped this. You chose not to. You could have protected my sisters and I and you turned a blind eye. You will not silence me to protect your image. Your false family values or your self professed Christianity. Take that book and throw it in the trash.
Everyone will answer for their sins and unlike earth, Heaven doesn’t care about excuses. “I was living my own life. I had my own kids. I couldn’t help you. That was my father. I didn’t want to upset my mother.” YOU didn’t want to upset your mother who was condoning the abuse of my sisters and I. We were disposable. We were unloved. We also became survivors. We had no choice. Excuses are like assholes. Everyone has one. Don’t attempt to silence the truth with either me or my sisters. I have no idea how certain people can live with the choices or decisions they made in my family. I never will. Selfish, reckless, narcissistic embeciles.
One day my “father” told me “you and your sister owe me. You wouldn’t be where you are if you didn’t have a hard life.” Furious, I told him “go to Hell. We don’t owe you anything. What we owe you is our anger. You did nothing to protect us. You did everything to hurt us. We don’t owe anyone anything least of all YOU.” I meant it.
My father threatened to sue me five years ago over being honest at an interview. This ones for you “dad.” Truth is an ABSOLUTE DEFENSE in a court of law. Try me. I’d love to get the truth out and finally close the door on the lies, the bullshit and the fake family my sisters and I had. “Smile damnit look happy.” I learned to smile on cue. I became a commercial and print model who had the strongest work ethics of anyone I’ve ever met. I learned to put what was going on in my life away to smile. I learned it from YOU. Thanks dad. You taught me that no matter what was going on in my life that I could smile on cue. You taught me that my violent husband and my fear of going home to another attack didn’t impede my ability to go to work and create a persona of a person who had no problems. You taught me to be what people wanted me to be although like an onion, my perfect smile and fake teeth replaced by a cosmetic dentist hid my past. Don’t tell me not to look at you or put a smile on my face. My childhood and that of my sisters are nothing to smile about. The very few childhood photos that exist are of three miserable frightened girls who were told to smile and couldn’t. Those photos are a mirror of our lives. They show us where we were. Where we’ve been and more importantly, what we left behind.
My anger surprises people. It shouldn’t. Cindy and I are the Five Percentile. We are unusual. We are studied. Why? Because victims of childhood sexual abuse and violence are often drug addicts, sex addicts or suicides.
Five percent of these victims are able to disassociate themselves from their past. We did. Our violent first marriages caused us to relapse into our former victimized shells. PTSD is different for everyone. Learning to put our past in a box was the greatest gift of being six years old. We were young enough to put what happened and continued to happen until leaving home in another place. We compartmentalized our abuse and our abusers. It’s very rare. It’s also a survival skill. Only children possses the ability to overcome trauma by doing so. It’s far more difficult for adults to do this and function.
Makenna will be released next week. Her medication is being changed. We will continue to monitor her moods and her feelings. We will be far more suspicious of strangers and new friends. We will continue to be the parents we never had to not only our children and grandchildren but also our clients…
Comments by Wendy Wortham